Watching Stabler on TV brings me back

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ken Stabler was honored last week in Foley for his many accomplishments on the football field.

The south Baldwin native began his career back in the 1970s as the quarterback for the Foley Lions High school football team. And, as you all know, he went on college at Alabama where he set many school records at quarterback. Following college he was a high draft choice for the Oakland Raiders professional team where he also set many records.

I write about Kenny today because of some occasions I came in contact with him. When he was playing for the Crimson Tide I often watched him on TV.

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Saturday afternoons were popular times to see these games and I often went in to Carlton Martin’s auto parts store where Hiram Cabaniss, Billy McDonald, Carlton and I watched the college games on the TV located in the customer service area.

Ken’s dad, known as “Slim Stabler” would come by the store for auto parts. This was the era I-65 was under construction and Slim was working with the firm that was constructing this section of the interstate. On one occasion when he came in for vehicle parts, he sat with us to watch the game.

I met Ken in 1979 following Hurricane Frederic after I received assignment to handle his flood loss at his stately home on Ono Island. When I walked up the door, he was strumming a guitar. He told me he had been taking lessons. But I must admit his strumming sounded real good. Although he did not have a big flood loss I remember writing up damage to his deck.

On another occasion in the mid 1970s, I took my Tri City Ledger makeup pages to the Robertsdale printing plant to have my paper printed. Ken’s sister, Carolyn, worked at that paper and she was always very considerate getting me in and out on time. I remember what a gracious lady she was.

Ivan Jones was Ken’s high school football coach. But I became acquainted with him the year after I finished school in Perdido. Ivan was a teacher/coach at Perdido for a couple of years before taking the job at Foley High School. Of course you know the prestigious coaching record he had at Foley.

Yes, my contact with Ken and some of his family members are well remembered.

Back in 1954 and 1955 there was a lot of interest in wrestling. I suppose its popularity was due to TV.

But it was also a popular attraction at the Atmore National Guard Armory, where crowds gathered on Friday and Saturday nights to watch these matches. Some of these wrestlers identified themselves as “villains” and some were portrayed as “heroes.”

A few local and area men were so inspired they joined the wrestling circuit.

John Bachelor was one of those men. After some rugged training he developed some favorable skills. So much, in fact, he received some bookings not only here in Atmore but in surrounding small towns as well. One night, portraying himself as a hero, he was pitted against one of the area “villains” and he gave a “championship” type performance eventually flooring the villain for the necessary counts to win the match.

There was another wrestler, very well known in fact, on that same program. His name was Tom Drake who was recognized as the most popular hero wrestler in the state. This north Alabamian’s wrestling career didn’t last too long as he entered into politics and the legal field where he had an outstanding career.

There was some other news of interest in the year 1954.

The state unveiled small radar boxes used by officers to clock speeding drivers. Several county and local officers were trained to use these boxes.

Escambia, Fla. and Escambia, Ala. came under quite a scare when several rabid foxes attacked dogs causing them to die. One thousand dogs in these two counties were vaccinated during this outbreak.

Several members of Boy Scout Troop 26 were almost trapped in an overnight snowfall as they camped on the banks of big Escambia Creek. They included Johnny Johnson, Bobby Kearley, Bobby Mays, Bobby Middleton, Jimmy Mays, Jim Staff, Alfred Davis, Keith Mixon, John Mims and John Gilbert Barnette. Jean Wilson and Cliff Mims, scoutmasters, were with them during the ordeal. Having learned how to cope with dangers in campouts, their skills carried them through the cold night

For many years, Auburn football great Dr. Ed Dyas treated patients at his Mobile office. Sadly, the renowned gridironer and physician passed away a few years ago. I remember carrying my mother to his office for treatment. I am sure some of you were treated by him.

Another doctor I see once a year is Dr. Mike Davis. He specializes in thyroid medicine. A kicker for the Crimson Tide, he was the third member of the Tide’s great kickers. His father, “Pig” Davis was first in line followed by his older brother, Tim.

I remember seeing Tim kick four field goals in that 1964 win over Ole Miss. That was the year it snowed heavily in New Orleans. The game was played in Tulane Stadium prior to the building of the Super Dome.

Speaking of Domes, how many of you can remember when the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile was completed? It was in 1940. My dad often mentioned the miles saved to his job to Brookley Field via the tunnel.

That tunnel was recently temporarily closed for repairs.

Next week more news from days gone by.